Electronic data collection

Direction of the Chief Executive regarding Housing Benefit claims and applications for Council Tax Reduction

This page sets out the council's legal obligation to publicly state our policy regarding electronic collection of data relating to Housing Benefit claims and applications for Council Tax Reduction.

Electronic communications

Direction of Eleanor Kelly, Chief Executive of the London Borough of Southwark, under The Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Electronic Communications) Order 2006 and Paragraph 11 of Schedule 7 to the Council Tax Reduction Schemes (Prescribed Requirements) (England) Regulations 2012.

The London Borough of Southwark ("the Authority") in accordance with:

  • Paragraph 2 of Schedule 11 to the Housing Benefit Regulations 2006
  • Schedule 10 to the Housing Benefit (Persons who have attained the qualifying age for state pension credit) Regulations 2006
  • Paragraph 13 of Schedule 1 of the Southwark Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2013

hereby makes the following directions:

1. An individual who, in accordance with the 2006 and 2012 Regulations makes a claim for Housing Benefit under the Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992, or an application for Council Tax Reduction under the Local Government Finance Act 2012, or gives notice of a change of circumstances, is authorised to do so by an electronic communication, provided that the individual uses the method approved by the Authority in relation to the claim or application.

2. The methods and form set out, at the time of, and for the purposes of, the delivery of such a claim or application as referred to in paragraph 1, are respectively:

  • electronic applications for Council Tax Reduction/Housing Benefit provided they are made via the Authority's Housing Benefit & Council Tax Reduction online application form and are received in the Authority's official benefits computer system
  • electronic notification of changes of circumstance made via the Benefits/Council Tax Reduction - "Change of circumstances" web form on the Authority's website
  • notifications submitted via any other Authority email addresses or phone numbers will not be acceptable
  • the person making an electronic notification of a change of circumstances may be asked to sign the electronic document produced using a manual or electronic method
  • to ensure the authenticity of the identity of the sender the electronic communication must include:
    • the claimant/applicant's name and any two of the following
    • the address of the Housing Benefit claim/Council Tax Reduction application
    • the claimant/applicant's date of birth
    • the claimant/applicant's National Insurance Number
    • the claimant'/applicant's Housing Benefit/Council Tax Reduction reference number

The Authority may accept digital photographic and scanned images of notices, forms, evidence, and information provided by a person where it has been verified by an officer of the Authority or its agent. Where it has not been verified the Authority may request to see the original where its authenticity cannot be corroborated by other means.

The person must keep a copy of any electronic communication, reference number generated, claim, certificate, notice, information, or evidence so that it can be produced where the Authority so requires. Failure to produce on reasonable request the evidence requested may be deemed to show that an electronic communication was not successfully made to the Authority.

The Authority's 'official computer system' for the purposes of recording information relating to electronic claims is provided by Web Labs Ltd. The Authority's 'official computer system' for the purposes of recording information relating to electronic notices of changes of circumstances is also provided by Web Labs Ltd and is the councils web form system. Info@Work is the Authority's integrated document information and workflow system and is also regarded as an 'official computer system' for the purposes of recording information relating to electronic communications.

3. The Authority may require further information or original supporting evidence before the change of circumstances notified in relation to Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Reduction can be assessed. The Authority may verify claims, certificates, notices, information or evidence by using third party systems and sources of information as well as by direct contact with a person using electronic communications or by some other means.

4. Any notification received that:

  • does not conform to any of the relevant standards will be invalid
  • does conform to the above standard but is not accepted by the Authority's official computer system, is not regarded as having been delivered

5. This direction may be withdrawn or amended at any time by the issue of a further direction.

Page last updated: 02 October 2017